Today we left Panajachel and headed across the lake to San Pedro and for a day trip to Santiago.
Once we got to San Pedro, we quickly found a hostel and headed off to find the boat that would take us on a day trip to Santiago. As soon as we disembarked from a very calm crossing, we were immediately hounded down by one of the many guides who offer to take you to see the famous Maximon...a saint for whom the people of the area have a shrine/idol of in someone's house (someone who is elected by other people in the area).
We negotiated a price and set off with our guide, Fernando, leading the way. As we walked through Santiago he explained a little about the area, the Mayan people, their languages etc...although it was all in Spanish and although we got the general idea, there was a lot of smiling and nodding on our part.
After a bit of a speed walk through the town, we stopped outside what looked like a bar. We stood there for a while, not entirely sure what we were waiting for. After about 5 minutes a taxi (aka, a pick up truck) turned up and we were told to get in it...we are used to them now and there we have seen these types of taxis around, so we were happy to jump in the back with all the locals. It was about a 10 minute ride outside of Santiago and we got off the truck we found ourselves at a private house, not to dissimilar to the houses that we had been building! We walked into the dark room and there was maximon in the middle. We weren't allowed to take photos so I will try to describe it.
Maximon is a slightly creep looking wax model of a man, about 4 foot high. He is wearing a traditional mayan hat, coat and trousers. On top of that he was wearing about 50 ties...we still don't know the significance of that! To the right of him was a glass coffin with a wax model of Maximons father, Santa Cruz. The roof was covered in brightly covered balloons and streamers and there were candles everywhere. We sat for a while in this very strange situation and watched as one of the locals gave Maximon some alcohol and a cigarette (which they actually lit!!). It was all a little bit weird but it was very interesting and certainly not something that many tourists would do!
After a look around the market, a bit of lunch and a visit to the weaving museum we headed back to San Pedro for dinner. We found somewhere that showed free films and did free food which was great, however we were told that the kitchen was closed because everyone was at the town meeting...a debate between locals (including all the gringos) and the police, who want to shut all the lake side bars at 9pm. This meant that anywhere we tried had no food!! Hungry and tired we made our way up to the village to join the meeting, that way we could at least see when they all left and follow them back down the hill to make sure that we got fed! We were there for about 30 minutes listening to a guy babble away in spanish...only catching a few sentences here and there...but again, attending a town meeting is not exactly on most tourists to do lists! Long story short, we did follow everyone back down to the lake and we did get fed!